Friday, July 18, 2008

J.I Packer, Homosexuality, & Heresy

Over at Mark Driscoll's blog, there is a post about his conversation with J.I Packer. Through the conversation, Packer has no reservation to call unrepentant homosexuals as heretics.

[Packer] explained in great detail that he perceives the approval of homosexuality to be “heretical” because it denies a fundamental aspect of the gospel—namely repentance.

Packer said, “ “‘Heresy’ ought to be used when an aspect of the gospel is being denied.” He further explained that because God through Paul warns the Corinthians that those who practice homosexuality unrepentantly will be damned to hell, “Souls are put at risk every time homosexuality is tolerated.”

My question is the whether the term 'heresy' is a localized term or a term that share the same meaning through the whole church of Christ? By localized term, I mean a term which only a certain group of the entire Christendom deem it as heresy, and doesn't represent the entire body of Christ. For eg. of another localized term: to some churches, doesn't keep the Sabbath on Saturday is heretical.

Hence if Packer's usage of the term in the localized sense, then I think he share the same mistake by those who advocate that Saturday Sabbath has to be kept.

If Packer is using the term in a universal sense, that represents the dogma of the entire body of Christ, then he is being unjustifiably assertive. Ordination of homosexuals is one thing; allowing active Christian homosexuals to engage in their preferred sexual act is another. To Packer, both are deem heretical. But his is not the only way to see this issue. One can endorse Packer on the former yet disagree with the latter.

Let us pick on the latter: Are really souls put to risk when homosexuality is tolerated? St. Paul might be right on 1 Cor 6.9-11. Besides homosexuality, there are also idolaters, thieves, the greedy, the adulterers, the swindlers, and etc who are condemned by St. Paul in the passage.

Add to that, we have Jesus' sermon on the mount where the standard for morality is impossible for us to meet. Take Jesus' moral standard and St. Paul's criteria together, all of us will not inherit the Kingdom through one way or the other. But I don't think that is the way our theology of judgment and salvation should be.

But when it comes to ordination, it is another matter which require a different discussion.

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